The Homecoming (a belated post)
As quickly as it started, the garbage patch voyage draws to a close. On Tuesday October 6th we arrived in Long Beach. Bill, Bonnie, Jeff and I stood on the bow as we neared the dock, and what sight greeted our eyes but hundreds of pieces of plastic? We watched plastic water bottles, a Capri Sun container, an empty bag of potato chips and a plastic shopping bag float beneath the ship.
Bill and Jeff stared out quietly at the trash and then agreed that trying to curb the amount of debris going out to the garbage patch seems near impossible if we can’t even keep our own coastlines clean.
As we pulled up to the dock Marieta Francis, Jeanne Gallagher and Holly Gray of Algalita greeted us. As did Jeff Ernst’s parents. We spent the morning cleaning off the ship and displaying all of the debris on long wooden tables on the dock. People were stunned by the sheer amount of garbage—the 100-pound tangle of net and rope was enough to surprise anyone.
Throughout the day I helped Moore make sushi from the fresh yellow fin tuna we’d caught a few days earlier. At 4pm we were ushered off the boat by Marieta so we could take photos and cut the cake.
The enormous welcome home cake was designed to look like the Pacific Ocean with the Alguita sailing across. “And this is the garbage patch!” Moore declared as he took a knife and drew an enormous circle in the middle of the ocean.
During the party I got to meet previous crewmembers aboard the Alguita and we shared stories about life at sea. As the party died down it was time to return to the “real world” and I’ve been here in Los Angeles since then.
So even as this journey draws to a close, there will be others and I’ve decided to use the blog to write about the next adventure. Stay tuned….
Bonnie asked me during our first day back what was most memorable about the trip. It took me awhile to think of an answer. Almost everyone else had an instant response.
But when I think about all the things we did out there—picking up debris, cutting open fish stomachs and catching Mahi Mahi—it has nothing to do with the garbage or the marine life.
At night, during my watches, I’d sit at the helm and look through the open hatch above my head at millions of stars. The sound of the waves against the ship and the sight of the sails above my head were incredible. There was a sense of peace I’ve never experienced before.
One night on the bow Moore said he wished more people would come out here. He talked about how beautiful it is and that people tend to “preserve what they love.” I couldn’t agree more.